Rural State Highway Safety Issues Discussed at SBCTA Board Meeting

June 11, 2024

The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) staff has received comments from the SBCTA Board of Directors regarding the number of serious crashes on the desert highways and the need to improve safety.  Specifically, there have been news articles about multiple recent fatal accidents on State Route (SR) 247, which runs between Barstow and Yucca Valley.  SBCTA staff requested an update from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 8 Operations team to the Board of Directors at the June Board Meeting.

Haissam Yahya, Caltrans Deputy District 8 Director – Operations, walked the Board through a series of statistics and examples of the challenges faced by driver behavior on rural State Highways.  Focusing primarily on SR 247 and SR 62, the presentation illustrated how Caltrans focuses on the ‘Four Pillars of Traffic Safety’ and applies a range of strategies to address the concerns.

US 395 had a similar reputation in the past.  This roadway is actively being improved in three phases, which will help address the safety concerns within the cities of Victorville, Hesperia, and Adelanto. The center section from SR 18 to Chamberlaine Way was widened to a four-lane divided facility in 2020. Construction will begin in 2025 on widening the segment from SR 18 to Interstate 15. The northerly third segment from Chamberlaine Way to Desert Flower Road is awaiting funding. There are no plans for further improvement of the two-lane section north of the City of Adelanto between Desert Flower Road and SR-58, but delineation improvements to this segment were made more than 10 years ago.

SR 18 west of US 395, which is also two lanes except for the section near US 395, is another roadway that has safety concerns, both because of the propensity of drivers to make risky passing maneuvers and because of the multiple side streets and the undulating vertical profile. SBCTA, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and LA Metro have partnered on a study that is setting the stage for environmental clearance on the addition of a center turn lane and flattening of the profile, which should ameliorate some of these safety concerns.


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